By  on June 13, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Dresses and high-waisted jeans and trousers topped the trends during the holiday market that ended Tuesday here.

The trends crossed all women's categories — from juniors to contemporary to bridge — and many were carryovers from the fall market.

Jeannie Chen, co-owner of Satine in Los Angeles, said she anticipates that shoppers will latch onto "a few key-item pants" this year, including sporty-slouchy models and classic wide-leg, high-waisted looks.

Rachel Bratcher, co-owner of Los Angeles specialty store Filly, wrote orders for high-waisted skinny jeans from Blank, a diffusion line from Odyn that retails for $68, along with paper-thin chiffon strapless dresses at Marie Marie and metallic-accented column dresses at Dallin Chase. "It's still dresses, dresses, dresses," Bratcher said. "They are still just flying off the shelves."

Metallic fabrications and threading in dresses and tops — a classic holiday trend — were also on tap at two-year-old brand Ziji, which launched a holiday lineup filled with glimmering items such as a gold lamé dress with a pleated silk insert flowing from the neck.

Even the casual-loving entertainer Mandy Moore, who performed Sunday at Hollywood's Citizen Smith restaurant to promote her jersey line, Mblem, said she replaced hoodies and sweatpants from past collections with dresses, including a floor-grazing sleeveless style. "The original incarnation for Mblem was younger and a little more mainstream," Moore said. "It's more feminine and tailored [now]."

In denim, the holiday season is a good time to test new silhouettes and fabrics, said Ali Fatourechi, creative director of Los Angeles' Genetic Denim. He put a literal twist on a $110 wide-leg jean by having the outside seam curve inward toward the middle of the leg, so the pant moves more freely when the wearer is walking.

Despite the popularity of dresses, the trend skipped Debby Gonzales' store, Debby's Fashions in Modesto, Calif., where retail prices max out at $250. Gonzales said she does better business with sporty separates, including jeans and stone-and-crystal-embellished tops from companies such as Not Your Daughter's Jeans and Belldini.

Retail buyers such as Unjoo Moon of Los Angeles-based boutique Sheila searched for shirts and blouses that were fuller on top to complement the season's high waists. "We're finding more and more of our customers are looking for that," she said.The Designers & Agents show, which shortened its run in Los Angeles for the first time to three days from four, featured eco-friendly vendors.

"The New York show is always three days, but we've always done four days in L.A. because that's what L.A. does," said show co-owner Ed Mandelbaum. "But trade shows are supposed to be exciting. The energy dissipates on the fourth day."

The New York-based event brought its so-called Green Room to Los Angeles after launching the initiative in New York in May. The sectioned-off area featured 13 apparel and lifestyle vendors.

Rachel Bending, owner and designer of Bird Textiles, a one-year-old contemporary label based in Australia, said the room provided "a great opportunity to show the brand in America." The sportswear-inspired collection is manufactured with only solar-powered energy and uses environmentally friendly fabrics and water-based dyes. Top sellers included a tie-wrap tunic printed with an abstract leaf graphic, selling for $155 wholesale, and a bat-winged red wool top, priced at $100. Among the retailers who picked up looks from Bird was the Four Seasons hotel in Maui, Calif.

French-born, Los Angeles-based designer Naj Le Gitan and business partner Gregory Abbou launched a directional streetwear collection, Dégaine, at the event, showing skinny-back jeans and slouchy sweatshirts bearing appliquéd graphics of ballet shoes and boxing gloves. Prices range from $80 wholesale for denim to around $300 for cashmere sweaters featuring French cuffs.

"Dégaine is slang in French for someone who has style, someone with a personality," said Le Gitan, who noted that retailers, including Maxfield, Atrium and Barneys New York, had written orders from the line.

Dress-driven vendors, including Marie Marie and six-month-old contemporary brand Hera, said light and airy fabrications were popular with buyers. Emily Chen, sales manager for Hera, said she wrote orders with retailers such as Bubble in Portland, Ore., and Planet Blue in Los Angeles. Bestsellers included silk kimono tops in metallic-accented prints, selling for $124 wholesale.

The Sausalito, Calif.-based bridge line CP Shades launched Earth, a 100 percent organic collection priced from $24 to $76.

"In a funny way, it was triggered by D&A doing this green [initiative]," said Zach Weinstein, son of company founder David Weinstein. "But also, we've been doing organic off and on for 10 years." Bestsellers from the line include button-front cotton shirts in a range of cream and flax hues, and crew-neck knit tops made from bamboo.To satisfy retailers' desire for affordable dresses, Los Angeles designer Joy Han introduced a lower-priced dress line called Vava by Joy Han at the Brighte trade show, organized by ENK International.

Vava wholesales, on average, from $39 to $98, while Han's five-year-old line Voom by Joy Han ranges from $89 to $149. Fabrics are the main difference between the two lines. Voom is focused mostly on silk blends and Vava uses primarily knits, cotton and wool.

Joy Han has also boosted her accessories selection with Voom jewelry for the fall-holiday season. At Brighte, sales rep Jina Han, no relation to the designer, pointed to a multistrand necklace in leather, plastic and gold metal with a cameo pendant wholesaling for $59 as one of the brand's early pieces.

Emily Ironi, owner of Los Angeles handbag company Alexis Hudson, said accessories buyers at Brighte were cautiously ordering closer to delivery dates and modifying their accessories stock to spread the risk. Standouts in Alexis Hudson's fall line are silver and gold clutches that wholesale for $175 in embossed leather resembling python and black patent doctor-like bags that wholesale for $260.

"They were buying three per style, then they got burnt,'' Ironi said. "So the orders are smaller, and there are more orders. I prefer that, because I don't want the customer to see five [Alexis Hudson bags] on a shelf and not think they are unique."  — With contributions from Rachel Brown

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